First and foremost, it is not a “fad.”
One of the reasons why are we seeing and diagnosing anklyoglossia more is genetic predisposition. More than 50% of babies with a tongue tie have a relative who has tongue tie (oral restriction.) If the gene is passed from generation to generation (and is possibly passed on as a dominant gene) then more and more babies will be affected by that gene with each new generation.
In recent years we’ve seen an increase in the number of moms who are breastfeeding, therefore we can expect to see more moms who are having difficulty with breastfeeding.
Before formula became the preferred way to feed babies doctors routinely checked babies for ankyloglossia in the newborn nursery, and would perform a frenotomy (release the tight frenulum.)
I’ve been an IBCLC for over six years, and in private practice for the last three years. I’ve had to educate myself on the subject of ankyloglossia (and I continue to do so) in order to effectively educate and assist the moms who have reached out to me for help as they find themselves struggling with breastfeeding.
Not all IBCLC’s know about or have been trained in assessing for and recognizing oral restrictions. In my experience, the same goes for many in the medical community as well.
Additionally, some physicians don’t believe in having a baby or child undergo an “unnecessary” procedure. I understand that. It is every caregivers duty to protect the patient and make the right decisions to ensure the patients get the very best care. The problem is those decisions can be subjective in terms of does the caregiver think a condition being treated or not being treated is going to have a significant impact on their patient’s health.
The release of tongue tie dates back many centuries, and “before the 19th century, midwives were reported to have kept sharp fingernails to slash the membrane under the tongue of all newborns.”
In earlier years clipping the frenulum without reason was a common practice, and this led many in the medical community to distrust and question the need for treatment.
However, ankyloglossia is once again gaining recognition. Evidence-based research shows it is not a “fad,” and that necessary treatment should not be withheld or discouraged.
Getting the information out to the medical community continues to be a challenge.
Too many families are being given conflicting information and are either experiencing delays in getting the help they need, or treatment never occurs because they were told that tongue tie is a “fad” or lactation consultants blame tongue tie when they can’t get a baby to latch, or the baby has a “mild tongue tie” or that the baby “will outgrow the tongue tie” (and lip tie if present,) or that the baby “is a lazy eater,” mom doesn’t produce enough milk and on and on.
On the other hand ,there have been moms who have said to me “Oh I’m not going to have my baby “cut” just so I can breastfeed!”
The greatest flaw in that reasoning is that breastfeeding is known to positively affect both baby and mom’s health (with some rare exceptions.)
In the short term ,IBCLC’s may be seen as focusing only on protecting breastfeeding, and I suppose we are. But again, this is due to the fact that breastfeeding does play a significant factor in the future health of moms and babies.
Those of us who advocate for treatment also know that regardless of how a baby is fed, treating ankylogloassia is extremely important for future physical, mental and emotional health.
Stay tuned for more on ankyloglossia treatment options and the process of deciding on a treatment plan.